Impact of the Hollywood Writers’ Strike on the Northland economy

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The ongoing Writers Guild strike and the looming actors strike “SAG” in Hollywood is affecting the growing movie industry here in the Northland.

Even though our film industry here in the Northland is relatively small and upcoming, local production companies say they are feeling the heat.

We spoke to Shari Marshik, the Executive Director of Upper Midwest Film Office and she says the effect of this strike will linger long after it is over with a negative cascading effect on our local economy.

She said all major projects are presently on hold with a hand full of small projects still filming in the area.

“Going forward, studios are being very careful about what they finance, they are now hesitant with the projects that they commit to funding. This is why funding for projects has just really dried up right now. And then secondarily, when the writers’ strike ends, everybody will want to go back to work, which means that we will be fighting with order film industry hubs for projects.”

She further explains in detail how this present strike is costing the Northland millions in domestic spending, sighting a University of Minnesota Duluth Project.

“One University of Minnesota research stated that for every dollar spent, $6.90 ripples through the Northern Minnesota local economy. So, if we think that we have projects that are on the slate ready to come through and that has $2 million to $3 million worth of spending attached to it, then that times $6.90 quickly rose. So, we we’re missing out on that economic activity that would happen if a project decided not to come. Because this affects hotels, restaurants, car rentals, rental agencies and so on.”

While not all projects here are under the Writers Guild of America many use SAG actors, meaning an actors’ strike will prove even more devastating for us, as we will likely see an almost complete stoppage of work. 

One of the ways that people may not consider feeling the effects is via festivals.  The Catalyst festival has had to create numerous “what if” situations as a huge percentage of attendees are actors and writers, and if they are on strike – it will affect who makes the journey to Duluth. The longer the wait, the more expensive it gets to travel and It will also drastically affect sponsors and network attendees.  

Shari also stated that there could be another strike next year as the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees union are set to renew their contracts.